Finally, after hearing complaints from multitudes of users, photo-sharing service Instagram has established web-based profiles for its users. Gone are the days when someone would need to whip out a smartphone or go to a 3rd party site in order to view someone’s pictures. This expansion out of a mobile-only platform could have a large impact not only on unofficial 3rd party Instagram web viewers, but also brands that utilize Instagram to share their photos to the masses.
Almost since its inception, Instagram users have been clamoring for a web portal for them to access their photos, follow people, comment, and like photos. A quick Google search for “Instagram Web” displays multiple sites that had provided this service. The results included WebStagram, Statigram, Pinstagram, GramFeed, ink361, and more. With Instagram rolling out its own service, it is highly likely that API access will soon be revoked from these sites. In my opinion, the current Instagram web profiles are no where near the quality of some of these other services. Statigram for example, provides user with statistics and analytics on engagement levels for photos, as well as how certain filters affect these numbers. If these sites are able to retain their access rights, I don’t see how Instagram could possibly compete.
These new web profiles have a design that will look very familiar to the majority of people who have even the tiniest bit of knowledge about social media. With a profile picture just under a much larger cover photo, Instagram web profiles bear a striking resemblance to Facebook’s profiles. This is by no means a coincidence, as Facebook now owns Instagram. Each profile page contains a large cover that is a rotating collage of a user’s photos. Unfortunately, this collage cannot be edited, so you just have to hope that your best photos make it up there. This is a huge detriment to brands that are attempting to create awareness, as they cannot feature their latest campaigns.
Although there are some features that will ultimately hurt brands, having a web profile itself is a gigantic plus for most brands. By having this new profile, brands can now reach those fans that do not have a smart phone. These pictures are no longer limited to those with an iPhone or Android. In addition, brands can now link to their page from all of their sites and social channels. This will drive more traffic to the profile and lead to an increased amount of followers.
As a whole, users seem thrilled to finally be able to access Instagram via the web. However, by putting out a product that is inferior to similar services, how long will it take for fans to adopt Instagram’s native service? Without the ability to search for users or hashtags or access various statistics, Instagram’s web profiles are no more than a glorified phot o album, but I guess that’s what they were going for.
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